Universal Health Care: Sooner Than Later

To The Editor:

Successful insurance producers know that when the cost of the premium dollar to solve the problem is perceived to be less than the pain of the problem, the prospect will take action.

Steve Piontek is right in his April 9 column, “Third Rail,” when he suggests that we may have reached the point when the pain seemingly inherent in the current health care system is perceived to be greater than the cost of giving the problem to the government to solve.

In June of 2006, after 31 years as an attorney in the life and health insurance business, I retired from a position as COO of a health insurance company and took my current position in academia. I left the business side believing that some form of government-financed universal health care was an inevitability likely to be seen within 10 years. Not quite a year later, I believe that only the time frame is wrong-it is much too long.

The baby boomers, after a working lifetime of having their health care subsidized by their employers, are beginning to retire and face the full cost of health care and health care insurance without the cushion of the employer’s contribution. The result is sticker shock.

One can imagine them placing all of the health care players (health insurers, employers, brokers, doctors, hospitals, drug companies, politicians, personal injury plaintiff’s lawyers, medical equipment manufacturers, medical malpractice insurance companies, and nursing homes) in a circle. They would then go to each player in the circle and ask, “Who do we blame for the high the costs of medical care and medical insurance?” At every stop, each person would say, “It’s not my fault, we’re only doing what we have to do. It’s their fault.” And each one would point to the left.

It appears the boomers have concluded that each segment of the industry is determined to protect its own interests and seems incapable of working with others to achieve some solution. So the boomers have given up going around the circle. They have stopped in front of the politicians and have said, “What are you going to do about this?” Since the baby boomers vote in huge numbers, the politicians are not going to waste time going around the circle one more time.

Players who wish to stay in this game should consider adopting a new playbook.

A sophisticated ad campaign will not likely have the same impact it did a few years ago.

Burke A. Christensen, JD, CLU

Robert B. Morgan Chair of Insurance

College of Business and Technology

Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, Ky.

What Sacrificial Lambs?

To The Editor:

I enjoy most of the content of National Underwriter, but I was amazed at your column titled “Sacrificial Lambs” in the March 12 issue. I have been in the health benefits administration business for 29 years and I see daily examples of how children receive health care. In Southwest Missouri, we have a much higher number of poverty level households than you do in New Jersey. Many of those families, including my 2 grown children, have family insurance through their employers. They have deductibles, prescription co-pays, etc. that they pay out of their pockets. But the others have their health care paid for by Medicaid and other social programs, with zero out-of-pocket. Their expenses are paid with our tax dollars and are subsidized by those of us who pay for our care, via higher provider charges and insurance premiums.

Those with Medicaid or no insurance still receive their necessary health care services. They get office visits and medicine, and they can walk into any emergency room and be treated with no ability (or interest) to pay. Many of those uninsureds are that way by the choice of their parents who decline to buy insurance through their employers. I have employees who decline insurance here because with Medicaid they get free care for their children.

I feel that you have abused your Editor’s Edge by using it as your personal political platform. Don’t brag about Rep. Pallone’s opposition to our president unless he has a better solution to offer. If you or he wants to put an insurance ID card in the pockets of these children, then promote legislation that will cause more uninsureds to seek coverage. Those of us who pay for insurance are already indirectly insuring these children.

David A. Powell

President

Benefit Management, Inc.

Joplin Mo.

LTC Needs Advertising

To The Editor:

I saw a flying duck on TV recently and thought of Aflac. I saw a savvy gecko and a disgusted caveman and thought of Geico.

The point to this is that advertising sells–an important point obviously missed by the long term care insurance companies.

Long term care insurance will continue to be a marginalized product until millions of Americans begin to identify what it is and its importance in planning for their future. The lack of credible and recurring advertising on a national level keeps LTCI as one of the least understood insurance products. People, generally, don’t want to think about LTC, and the lack of advertising information reinforces their denial to address this issue.

Paul S. Bunkin, CLTC

Turnersville, N.J.